Kealakehe hasn’t been on the field in over two weeks for a game, but have still had to deal with a hefty serving of adversity in preparation for their first showdown with Hilo Friday night
The Waveriders (0-1 BIIF, 1-1 overall) were wiped out last week by a bad case of the flu, which was so nasty that head coach Wyatt Nahale had to cancel practice for a few days because the team didn’t have enough bodies to make their time on the field productive.
“I’ve never seen something like it in all my years of coaching,” said Nahale, who estimated about 30 players were affected by the flu. “Other than that, the morale has been good. We are ready to show up and fight.”
Kealakehe got another surprise when the game against the Vikings (1-0 BIIF, 2-o overall) was moved from Waverider Stadium to Wong Stadium due to an electrical issue, pushing back their home field debut.
“Just a completely crazy chain of events,” Nahale said. “At this point, we are prepared for whatever comes our way. As a staff, we just have to continue to get these players ready for the game. That’s our responsibility.”
The Waveriders opened their BIIF season on the road at Konawaena on Aug.17, which resulted in a 24-7 loss. Kealakehe managed less than 150 yards of total offense and saw the Wildcats control the majority of the game with a healthy advantage in time of possession. However, Nahale was able to pull some positives from the loss.
“It was a game we were able to grow from,” Nahale said. “It helped us see where we need to make adjustments on both sides of the ball.”
With a trip to Wong up next to face six-time defending D-I champ Hilo, there’s no doubt the Waveriders have the most difficult schedule to start the season of any BIIF squad. Nahale and Co. are embracing the challenge.
“When you play against the defending champs, you have to play with a chip on your shoulder,” Nahale said. “When we saw the schedule initially, we knew that we would be battle tested early. But that’s good. As the season progresses, it will help us out.”
Nahale had nothing but good things to say about the Hilo program, which has ruled over the Division I ranks on the Big Island since 2013, winning the D-I state title in 2017.
“Until someone beats them, they’re the team to beat in Division I — the defending champs,” Nahale said. “Our mentality is to just take it one game at a time and take away what we can to improve from the experience.”
Konawaena (1-0) at Honokaa (1-0)
The Wildcats and Dragons are set to battle in the matchup of former D-II foes that made the jump to D-I this season.
Konawaena kicked off its BIIF season with a convincing victory over Kealakehe, while Honokaa did the same in knocking off Waiakea 39-0. Last week, the Wildcats hosted California squad Mission Viejo — a top 50 team in the nation according to MaxPreps. Konawaena lost 38-14, but showed some major fight, especially in the second half.
The Dragons racked up 228 yards rushing against the Warriors in their run-heavy attack, with three rushers cracking the 50-yard mark.